"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." (1 Peter 1:2)
There are some utterances in Scripture that cannot be made to fit into preconceived theological patterns of thought. They are so lofty they jar upon the religious bias' of men. Those lacking a commitment to the truth itself are prone to wrest such Scriptures, as Peter affirms in Second Peter 3:16. We have just such a passage before us. There is no question about the words of the text. They are "weighty and powerful." It is clear that Peter has no trouble with the words, and neither should we. He will tell us in a fresh way HOW and WHY we have been saved. He will not trace it to a human strategy or response, but to the Living God, the Holy Spirit, and our Jesus Christ our Lord. He will make no apologies for the strength of his affirmations, or modify them with convenient explanations. Through Him, the Holy Spirit will powerfully affirm Divine involvement in our salvation from the beginning to the end. He will tell us it was initiated by God, implemented by the Spirit, and made possible by the blood of Jesus Christ. Affirmations like this exercise a powerful influence upon the soul, and are to be received in faith, nothing doubting. They will not contradict any other Divine statement, and will, when believed, bring honor and glory to God and Christ, and great joy and peace to the soul.
DIVINE ELECTION AND FOREKNOWLEDGE
"2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father . . ." (KJV) The NIV reads, "who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father." The NRSV reads, "who have been chosen and destined by God." It is at once obvious that we are dealing with a profound and uncommon reality. It must be clear to us that the Spirit is explaining our salvation, and doing so in such a manner as to exclude all human boasting. Also, it is done in such a way as to provoke thanksgiving and praise.
The word "elect" is especially powerful, and is often used to describe the people of God. It is NEVER used to portray what they have done, however necessary that may be, but always affirms that the Lord has done. The word itself means "chosen, or selected." It is used twenty-seven times in the New Testament Scriptures, is often translated "chosen," and alwaysrefers to Divine choice, never human choice (Matt 22:14; 24:22,24,31; Mk 13:20,22,27; Lk 23:35; Rom 16:13; Col 3:12; 2 Tim 2:10; 2 Pet 1:2; 2:4,6,9; 2 John 1,13; Rev 17:14). There is a consistent pattern in Scripture that is worthy of noting. All that is good in us, is invariably ascribed to the Lord and His choice. This includes both willingness and doing (Phil 2:13). The virtues found in us are expressly called "the fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5:22-24). Our good works were "prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). Whatever difficulties may be associated with this, the choice is said to have occurred"before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4), and "according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" (2 Tim 1:1).
The worth of the saved is not owing to their own accomplishments, or even their own choice, though both are involved in salvation. Paul said he was "bound to give thanks" for the Thessalonian brethren, not because of what they had achieved, but "because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (2 Thess 2:13). As declared in our text, God does use means, not simply making the choice arbitrarily. Yet, it is His choice that is the determining factor, as is everywhere so affirmed.
The Lord Jesus Himself is called both "Elect" and "Chosen" (Isa 42:1; 1 Pet 2:4,6). Even though our Lord volunteered to come into the world (Phil 2:5-8; Heb 10:4-9), yet He did not take this honor to Himself, but was "called of God" for His work (Heb 5:4-5). And what servant of Christ can boast of a higher calling than His Lord? Who can dare to ascribe more glory to their choice than to that of God Himself. Lest the people of God be tempted to boast, they are reminded God has forgiven them "for Christ's sake" (Eph 4:32), and that Christ received them from God for His glory (John 6:37; Heb 2:13; Rom 15:7).
Those in Christ are categorically said to be "elect according to the foreknowledge of God." Paul also refers to God's foreknowledge in Romans 8:29, saying those foreknown by God were predestinated "to be conformed to the image of His Son."The "foreknowledge" of God is not mere foresight, like seeing what will happen in the future. This foreknowledge is one of purpose and determination. It is mentioned in regard to our Lord's death, i.e., "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). Confirming this, the disciples later prayed concerning those who killed Jesus, that they"gathered together" together against Christ "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done" (Acts 4:28).
In the end, salvation in its entirety will be ascribed to the Lord. As it is written, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! . . . Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!" (Rev 7:10; 19:1). Dissenting voices may presently be heard in the world, but there will not be a single person in glory who will disagree with that affirmation. Settle it in your mind that salvation, from beginning to end, is of the Lord. That is the meaning of "Alpha and Omega," "Beginning and End," and "Author and Finisher" (Heb 12:2; Rev 1:8). As we will see, we are involved in the process, but that involvement is consistently traced back to Divine influence. At no point, nor in any aspect, of coming to and receiving Christ, is human activity divorced from the work of God. That such separation is possible is consistently refuted in the Word of God.
THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT
" . . . through sanctification of the Spirit . . . " (KJV). When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His return to heaven, He told them He would send the Holy Spirit. His work would include convincing the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11). Now Peter extends that work into everything related to salvation. Jesus had already said no one could come to Him unless the Father drew him (John 6:44,65). He even affirmed that everyone the Father gave Him would come to Him (John 6:37). A brief consideration of this aspect of our salvation will serve to confirm the wonderful work that has been wrought in those who are in Christ Jesus.
Ponder the fact of repentance, something essential to the enjoyment of salvation. It is affirmed that Jesus "gives repentance" (Acts 5:31), and that God Himself also gives "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (2 Tim 2:25-26). When it was reported that the Gentiles had believed the Gospel, those hearing it confessed, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (Acts 11:18). Take the matter of confessing that Jesus is Lord. It is written, "no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 12:3). Even our baptism is associated with the Holy Spirit. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body" (1 Cor 12:13). All of this is included in the phrase "through sanctification of the Holy Spirit."
There simply can be no participation in salvation without the involvement of the Holy Spirit. This is also affirmed to the Thessalonians. "God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth"(2 Thess 2:13). Should men site their belief of the truth as their own work, it is also declared men "receive the love of the truth that they might be saved" (2 Thess 2:10). Again, it is written, "it has been granted on behalf of Christ . . .to believe in Him" (Phil 1:29). Just as surely as the Spirit of God "moved upon the face of the deep"before the natural creation, so He broods over the souls of men before the spiritual recreation.
When Paul spoke of his effective ministry among the Gentiles, He gave the credit to the productive work of the Holy Spirit. " . . . because of the grace given to me by God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:16). Were it not for the ministry of the Holy Spirit, none of us would be received by God, regardless of our accomplishments or profession. Lest we view this in a carnal manner, the Holy Spirit will not fail to perform the ministry to which He has been appointed. I understand God's appointments to always involve tender, humble, and contrite hearts. He has declared He is attracted to such individuals, fully known only to Him (Isa 57:15; 66:2).
The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit does not end when we are placed into Christ by the Father (1 Cor 1:30). Every aspect of our salvation is associated with the work of God Himself, for "it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). When, for example, we find hope increasing within our hearts, it is due to the influence of the Spirit. "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:13). If our hearts are rejoicing in the Lord, the Spirit is at work within us, "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17). When our hearts are filled with the awareness of God's love, and we ourselves abound in that love, it is because of the work of the Holy Spirit. "The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom 5:5).
Do not wonder that we are admonished not to quench the Spirit. He is the One who sanctifies, or sets us apart, for Divine use. If at any point we are left on our own, we will fail. Jesus said, "without me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5). His involvement with us, whether in salvation or sanctification, is through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. That is in strict accordance with the purpose of God, and well ought we to thank Him for it.
SANCTIFIED FOR OBEDIENCE
" . . . unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."KJV The NIV reads, "for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance." The NASB reads,"that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood." Lest the glorious truth declared induce men to slothfulness, and the supposition that our input is not involved, we are informed of the Divine purpose behind the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. It is twofold: (1) Unto obedience, and (2) The sprinkling of Christ's blood.
UNTO OBEDIENCE. Here is a most unpopular term among those who are casual about their faith, if, indeed, they have faith at all. Mind you, Jesus could not save us without Himself being "obedient" (Phil 2:8). He said of His activities, "I always do those things that please Him" (John 8:29). He confessed, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finishHis work" (John 4:34). Before He came into the world, He was the One who was obeyed, not the One who obeyed. Thus, He had to learn how to obey. And, indeed, that is precisely what He did. As it is written, "He learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb 5:8). How could it be, therefore, that disobedience could be countenanced among those claiming identity with Him?
Later, Peter will trace our obedience back to the power of the Spirit. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truththrough the Spirit" (1:22). It is "through the Spirit" that we "mortify the deeds of the body," as we are commanded to do (Rom 8:13; Col 3:5). If Jesus is "the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Heb 5:9), then we have an intense interest in obedience! When Paul gave thanks to the Lord for the Romans, it was because they "obeyed" (Rom 6:17). His rejoicing in the Philippians was owing to the fact they "have always obeyed" (Phil 2:12). Obedience reveals the work of the Holy Spirit. Disobedience divulges that the Spirit has been quenched, grieved, and resisted. There is no salvation apart from obedience, and there is no obedience apart from the Holy Spirit.
SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS. This is the language of sanctification, of setting people apart for the Lord. The "sprinkling of blood" was instituted under the Law to prepare people for the coming of Christ-to develop in them an awareness of Divine requirements. Repeatedly, we are told of the sprinkling of blood in association with the tabernacle service (Ex 29:16,20; Lev 1:5). Of particular significance is the sprinkling of everything associated with Divine ceremony. The consecration of Aaron, his sons, and their garments involved the sprinkling of blood (Ex 29:21). Moses, we are reminded, took the blood of goats and calves and "sprinkled both the book (of the Law), and all the people" (Heb 9:19). He further "sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry" (Heb 9:21). Thus was everything and everyone set apart for the service of God Almighty. Without the shedding of blood, there was neither remission nor sanctification.
In this we see the dreadful influence sin has had upon us. We cannot serve God without being set aside by the blood of Christ to do so! Even the choice of God Himself required this work: "the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." God cannot receive our persons or our works apart from the blood of Jesus! Even though He chooses us, He cannot use us until the sanctifying blood of Jesus is identified with us-sprinkled, as it were, upon us. This should provoke a swell of thanksgiving for the blood of Christ!
GRACE AND PEACE. Both grace and peace come from God, and are frequently invoked upon the people of God (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 2 Pet 1:2; 2 John 3; Rev 1:4). The reason for this invocation is found in the necessity of Divine favor and the tranquility of soul. However, Peter is not content for us to merely have a sample of grace and peace. He prays for its multiplication-for the realization of a superabundance of both. He knows, from one view, the righteous will be "scarcely saved" (1 Pet 4:18). The NASB reads the righteous are saved "with difficulty," while the NIV reads"it is hard for the righteous to be saved." That explains the many exhortations directed to the godly. It also unveils the reason for a multiplication of both grace and peace!